A 7-5 record and third-place finish in league is considered a disappoint for the Arroyo High School football team.
The Knights are used to winning Mission Valley League championships and bidding for top-four seeds in the Mid-Valley Division, not making the postseason as the No. 3 team from their league.
Although Arroyo may not be happy with last season’s end result, the Knights are choosing to build on it as they get ready to get things back on track this fall.
Arroyo has several key players back from last season and served notice earlier this summer that the passing game will be better when they won the SGV Shootout, their host tournament.
“The tournament has nothing to do with our level of confidence, it’s just as a team that we feel a lot more confident in the offense and our quarterback,” Knights coach Jim Singiser said. “We have more confidence (this year) to move the ball through the air as well as on the ground.”
You’ll have to forgive the Knights if they had a crisis of confidence on offense last season after losing 2011 Tribune Player of the Year Steven Rivera to graduation. Nathan Coto replaced Rivera and had his growing pains as a junior.
But this summer, Coto blossomed and looked like a much more dangerous passer if passing games are any indication.
“The work he put in this offseason and the work the coaches put in with the receivers and running game, I just think we’re farther along at this time now than we were last year,” Singiser said. “Last year, we had a brand new quarterback and it took him five, maybe six weeks to figure out you could win games as easily on the ground as you could through the air.”
Arroyo was truly hit and miss last year. The Knights were bad enough to be routed by Los Altos but good enough to easily handle Rowland. Then, in the playoffs, Arroyo won a first-round game over Bell Gardens and gave Sierra Canyon all it could handle in the second round.
Two major reasons why Arroyo might be better built this year to handle games against the big boys are defensive linemen Robert Sanchez and Juan Hernandez. Both players are pushing 270 pounds, which gives Singiser size he’s not used to having.
“The two of them are big bodies and they’re both athletic,” Singiser said. “We missed one (Hernandez) for most of last season because he had surgery last August. Robert filled in and was an all-leaguer in his own right.
“It’s huge. They’re both big kids and physical. But two guys on a defense isn’t going to stop anybody better than what we have in the past. We still have to play team defense.”
Arroyo will be tested right away. The Knights host Los Altos on Aug. 30 in a rematch of a game the Conquerors won last season, 33-6. Despite the embarrassing loss, Singiser said that revenge isn’t at the fore of his players’ minds.
“You can jump in the ring with Mike Tyson and get your butt kicked and then a year later have all the revenge factor you want,” Singiser said. “We got handled last year. I think they started six of their first eight drives in our territory. The took us out by the woodshed and took it to us.
“That said, you want to hope that our guys have a lot of pride and want to come out and compete. This is a big step-up in competition. I’ve talked to coaches around the Valley and the talk around other leagues is that Los Altos is a team that can make a run deep into their playoffs.”